Monday, February 24, 2014

The little streams of the mountains

After he died, I enjoyed reading transcripts of Pete Seeger's "interviews" with the House of Un-American Activities in the 1950s.  He was so young and brave and gently defiant.

I've always loved this version of Guantanamera by the Sandpipers.



Seeger recites part of the original poem by Jose Marti, saying, "My poems are a like a wounded fawn seeking refuge in the forest."

Guantanamera is one of my favorite songs ever, though, and I am convinced that in a past life, I was an old Cuban woman, fat and frumping in a housedress, yelling at kids and singing along to Guantanamera from a wavy record.

Guantanamera is a traditional Cuban song and is extremely popular there.  Jose Marti was a prolific writer and activist and subsequent Cuban national hero.  He traveled the world during his lifetime, and returned to Cuba in time to be killed in a battle for independence from Spain around the turn of the 20th century.  Now everything is named after him.

Anyway, I even love the hilarious 1980s Julio Iglesias version, un-ironically.  Got something to say?

Nothing is sweeter the Joan Baez's version, though, singing in her American-inflected Spanish.




And Celia Cruz


And Joe Dassin



Everything is so shitty in Cuba, but I've always kind of idealized it anyway.  The conflux of races and subsequent strange and heady blending of tradition is very romantic to me.  I'm also inspired by the constant low boil of protest happening among the citizenry, who, in response to the internet embargo, have been burning smuggled international and local news to cds, which are hand-delivered all over the country.  R. Castro's government is pretty powerless to combat this offline transmission of information, which trades hands like produce in a market, or drugs in an alley.

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